Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
This park honors John Mullaly (1835-1911), a newspaperman and civic official who was a tireless proponent of green space and the father of the Bronx parks system. Born in Belfast, Ireland, Mullaly came to the United States as a young man and soon became a special correspondent for the New York Herald. He reported on the laying of the first Transatlantic Cable (1857-58), and served as secretary to the inventor Samuel F. B. Morse. As editor of the Metropolitan Record, then the official publication of the Roman Catholic Church in New York City, Mullaly developed a printing technique known as aluminography. He also worked at the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. Later he served as New York Commissioner of Health and as a two-term member of the board of tax assessors.
In 1881, Mullaly helped to found the New York Park Association. Having made comparative studies of parkland in foreign cities and predicting the rapid population growth and rising land values in New York, the association called for more parkland in the southern Bronx, which had been annexed by New York City in 1874. This effort culminated in the 1884 New Parks Act and the city’s 1888-90 purchase of lands for Van Cortlandt, Claremont, Crotona, Bronx, St. Mary’s, and Pelham Bay Parks as well as the Mosholu, Pelham, and Crotona Parkways. The new properties increased the city’s parkland fivefold, from about 1000 acres to about 5000 acres.
The park honoring Mullaly and his vision is located in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx. The City of New York acquired land for a park on seven blocks to the east and west of Cromwell Avenue in 1924, and acquired part of the Cromwell Avenue street bed in 1925. Four years later, East 162nd Street was moved eastward, expanding the acreage of Macombs Dam Park and cutting the acreage of Mullaly Park. The triangular parcel bounded by Mullaly Park and Cromwell and Jerome Avenues was reassigned to the Department of Education for the site of P.S. 114 in 1939. A slender strip of land along East 162nd Street was assigned to Parks in 1962.
Mullaly Park was developed as a multi-use recreational facility that complements Macombs Dam Park to the south. The first playground in the park opened in 1932. Plans were made in 1942 for handball, basketball, paddle tennis, volleyball, ice skating, and rollerskating facilities in the southern end of the park. Another recreation area was developed on the north side of East 162nd Street between Jerome and River Avenues.
In the late 1960s, new entertainment facilities were constructed, including a wading pool, swimming pool, bathhouse, ice rink, skate shop, and snack bar. Other additions in the early 1970s included tennis courts and softball fields. Since 1988, the skate park has been a popular feature at Mullaly, with skateboarders, rollerbladers, rollerskaters, and BMX-riders practicing their latest moves on the half-pipe and jump ramps.
In 2001, two new playgrounds and two new mini soccer fields — one of which is synthetic turf, were constructed. The lawns now have a new irrigation system, World Fair’s benches and a granite compass rosette. In 2008, a $1.4 million synthetic turf athletic field was constructed with mitigation funds from the construction of the Croton Water Filtration Plant, funded by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Municipal Water Finance Authority.
- Jerome Avenue and Mcclellan Street
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